Over the weekend, Jefferson Smith, a 42-year-old triathlete, competed in the Nation’s Triathlon in Washington, D.C. He did not come in first or second or third in the race, perhaps because his ride for the 25-mile cycling portion was not exactly a top-of-the-line racing bike. But he gets the blue ribbon for First in Awesome in our book, because the bike he raced on came from D.C.’s Capital Bikeshare.
This was not the most competitive strategy; compared to super-aerodynamic, super-light carbon frame machines, the Capital Bikeshare bikes are clunkers. They have only three speeds and are designed not for speed but for safety — they’re much heavier than racing bikes and have a low center of gravity. Smith actually went less than half as fast as the overall winner.
It was, however, a great strategy for saving money: A few hours on a bikeshare cycle clocks in around $100, while a fancy racing bike costs thousands. (Plus, the D.C. Department of Transportation ended up refunding his bikeshare fees, because they also recognized his awesomeness.) And it was a great strategy for reminding people that bikeshares, while perhaps not the speediest way to get around, make a hell of a lot of sense for anyone who’s not trying to win a medal.